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The Diviners (Manawaka Sequence)

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,450 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence’s celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel.

This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process – putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in tim
Paperback, 543 pages
Published December 4th 2007 by New Canadian Library (first published 1974)
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 20, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012) and 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction)
Feminist. Very strong female character in the person of Morag Gunn. Orphan at the age of four, she was taken into custody by the couple Christie and Prin Logan. Christie is the town's scavenger (garbage collector) and divining is scavenging. But don't get the notion that the female characters here are scavengers or loser. Morag rose from that sorry early years and made own life-altering decisions in her life so strong that she seems to have the biggest ball among the characters including her goo ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Carolina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: whoever's up to it
I haven't been much of a fan of Margaret Laurence's work in the past, mainly because I found many of her characters a little on the whiny side. And if there's one thing I refuse to do is spend substantial amounts of time with a whiner. But the fact is, Morag Gunn, heroine of The Diviners, grabbed me. Barring the brief period she spent spineless and married to the good professor, Morag's got balls. A lot of self-doubt inner-talk (who doesn't?) and balls. And, importantly, in a way that doesn't de ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some things that enrich my life beyond all expectation or proportion: baths, bike rides, sex, and let me say it now: Margaret Laurence. I’ve long suspected she might be my favourite author (despite my discomfort with A Jest of God, I loved the book; The Stone Angel is near perfect in its characterization of Hagar), but on (re)reading The Diviners I’m ready to settle the matter: Margaret Laurence is my favourite.

I don’t mean to suggest she’s the best author out there (let’s leave conver
Apr 29, 2015 Mookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana
I found this book in the back of a Salvation Army and flipped through it. I bought it entirely because I was interested in the sheet music at the back, and I had no intention of actually reading the book. But after reading the lyrics of the songs, I wanted to know who was Lazarus, King of Nothing? Who was Piquette? This book is raw. The characters are flawed. You can't help but absolutely inhale this story as you follow Morag's harsh and bitter and somehow innocent life. The themes and hidden me ...more
I am giving this book a rare 5 star review, partially because I had not expected to like it, and I loved it. If I was a writer, I think my style would be very similar to the writing in this book. I loved the "Memory Bank Movie" passages. It reminded me so much of several significant events in my own life, and I can vividly rember them. I think the characters in the book were depicted very realistically and believable, flaws and all. The book was written in the 1970's and I hope our society has e ...more
Why do schools assign this book to teens? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it was assigned to my teenage self by 30- and 40-something women. If you've read the novel you'll know what I mean.

I had to explore this novel in extreme depth, I mean poring over every word of it for months. I wound up disliking it because the characters didn't really speak to me at that time. When a novel doesn't come alive for me, it's a real chore to listen to lectures about it day after day. I should
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
As good as or better than The Stone Angel which is one of my favourite books of all time. Well now this is too.
Sep 03, 2012 Jeanette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
"The Diviners" deserves to be a Canadian Classic. I first read this book in the 1970's and just finished re-reading it for book club. The strong female characters of Morag and Pique are believable and memorable as they each face the various challenges in their life. Margaret Laurence's women characters are strong and make a statement about the role of women in society and the strength women need to break through the barriers that society has set for women. Jules, Christie and Royland are the imp ...more
Aug 18, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was sucked into this book more than I expected to be. I was incredibly fond of Morag, the main character, who I found to be very three dimensional. I laugh now, but I was infuriated when she got married to a guy that I absolutely couldn't stand. (She seems to attract this sort of man.) The book was written a while ago, in the 70s, and its depiction of racism and sexism almost seemed too much at times. But I have a sinking feeling that it wasn't as exaggerated as I was hoping it was,

My one com
Apr 23, 2010 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
This book captures the voices of its characters (and their change through time) better than almost anything I've ever read, and what makes this even more remarkable is that they are ordinary people, artistic but not particularly eloquent, marginalized by the rest of Canadian society, and living in a sort of rural Bohemia.
It was written in the 1970's and focuses on the obstacles a woman (or really any independent spirit) faces in achieving their goals. The theme is set against fine natural desc
Dec 11, 2009 kingshearte rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence's celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel. This is a powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process - putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right - relinquished only in her overwhelming need for ...more
I did not enjoy this book. As a rule, I'm generally not a fan of books that focus on the more cynical, crustier side of life, but quite often I can stomach them if they have redeeming qualities such as enjoyable/relatable characters, beauty in the writing, clever dialogue, etc. This book had none of those things, in my opinion. I didn't care about the main character at all, and certainly didn't care about her sex life or her road to becoming an author that I would never read or the many and vari ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donne, canada, ebook
cercare di ricostruire il passato per esorcizzarlo e costruirsi un presente e un futuro felici- questo accade nella vita di morag, scrittrice di fama e donna solitaria che si trova alle prese con una figlia inquieta che non riesce a lasciar andare. il suo è un racconto onesto e pieno di dolore- in cui la protagonista si mette completamente a nudo, non tralasciando nemmeno i particolari più spiacevoli e gli errori, usando le parole per evocare ricordi e renderli tangibili facendoli diventare la c ...more
Jun 01, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the first 100 pages or so I was tempted to put this book down and move onto something that moved a little quicker. My patience was greatly rewarded. The Diviners is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read.
I read this when I was about 16, and Christy's "by their garbage shall ye know them" speech was life changing. Love this book. I've read it multiple times, but haven't re-read it in about 15 years. I should again.
Thom Stroud
Jan 05, 2016 Thom Stroud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Felt more like a feminist book rather than a postcolonial one (currently studying it for a postcolonial unit at university). Still, enjoyed it, little bit of a teary moment towards the end that I wasn't expecting and was a mixed emotion of joy/sadness. Certainly made me think about ancestry/heritage and how we don't tend to know where we actually come from unless we hunt for it, like Pique wishes to do. Is identity something borne from a past we know little of? Is our ancestors' past prior to ou ...more
Jun 28, 2015 Evelyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not my favourite book. In fact, about a quarter of the way in, I gave up on reading it, and went to read a synopsis instead (so I would have an idea of what people were talking about at book club). When I read the synopsis, I realized that I *really wanted* to get to the end organically. Even though I'd "spoiled" the ending, it seemed like a story worth living through.

Part of what I hated in the beginning was the disconnect between Morag and those around her. She seemed so awkward, and
Feb 10, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, can-con, classics
This is really more like 3.5 stars for me, but I suppose it does belong a notch above my other 3 star ratings, so it will have to be a 4. After reading and loving The Stone Angel, I decided to try and read all of the Manawaka series of books and, although The Diviners is the last in the series, it was the next I was able to get, so it was the next I read. I think that it is mainly in comparison to The Stone Angel that this book left me a little cold.

I've been trying to figure out why I wasn't as
From start to finish I was pretty much captured by the book, it did have a slow moment here and there, but this book will likely be one of my favourite reads of the year.

I think how Laurence brought both the past into the story and tied it all together was handled wonderfully. Especially how the author brought the reader back to Morag's past. The "Memorybank Movie" the author used to help bring the reader back to the past, to see Morag growing up as a child, to adult. Showing the reader the ind
Mar 23, 2009 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mooched, fiction
I discovered Margaret Laurence through the first in the Manakwa series, The Stone Angel, a marvellous novel told in the voice of an angry 90-year old woman who doesn't want to be locked up in an old folks' home. I wanted to read more, but Laurence's books are near-impossible to find. Or were, till I joined Bookmooch. Now I have three of them in my TBR pile.[return][return]I picked this first, not realising it was the last, and read it over a couple of days while stuck at home with a cold. What a ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I just finished this 1/2 hour ago with tears streaming. I have only a fragment of an idea of what I think, nor if 5 stars is right. I read her The Stone Angel at least 40 years ago before I moved here, and was very disappointed not to find her shelved in my library. When I picked this up at the library book sale (I think it was), I felt as if it must be a treasure.

This is told in such an interesting manner. Each chapter starts in the present, then Laurence takes the reader back in time - memoryb
Jan 13, 2008 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit
Totally loved this book....Margaret Laurence is quickly becoming one of my
favourite authors!

The Diviners follows the "life and times" of Morag Gunn, who grew up an
orphan in the small Canadian prairie town of Manawaka. It explores her
childhood experiences growing up as the adopted daughter of Prin & Christie,
her embarrassment with Christie's occupation as the town "garbage man", her
sometimes painful adolescence, her university days in Winnipeg, her marriage
to a man who seemed to just want to
Janieh Hermann
Nov 18, 2012 Janieh Hermann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana, fiction
I was compelled to rate Margaret Laurence's The Diviners after seeing a review for a new book bearing the same title, this one by Libba Bray. I love Libba Bray's books for young adults and have read several, but I feel sad knowing that one of the finest pieces of Canadian fiction (and by this point in time a true classic) no longer ranks in the top ten Google search based on the title alone -- all the top ranking results go to Libba Bray's new book.
This really brings home to me how so much of m
James Askari
Mar 04, 2016 James Askari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurence's Künstlerroman partly describes her own movement to artistic maturity from being orphaned as a pre-schooler. Her parents die close together of polio, the 'infantile disease'--which makes the child, the central figure of the novel, wonder why it wasn't her that died. She is adopted from apparently comfortable, cultured-bourgeois circumstances by a poor couple in 'Manawaka', the fictionalisation of Laurence's childhood town. It's small, inhabited by prissy, 'not verbal' people, in the wo ...more
Rohan Talkad
Decent novel. Would not recommend Margaret Laurence as a premiere Canadian author, though. This novel did not immerse me into Morag's life as much as I would have liked. Through majority of the novel, I felt like a third person viewing Morag's faults and dramas in life. Also, in my personal opinion, I didn't like the usage of flowery language describing the scenes Morag and the other characters were in - a brief description to induce the atmosphere would have been more than enough. The beginning ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
An absolutely amazing, all-encompassing book. The characters are so vivid and realistic. The prose is beautiful. I particularly liked how much attention is called to the fact that so much of memory is fiction, or at least not the entire truth. It's really hard to capture an entire life, from childhood to late adulthood, but Margaret Laurence has done so in a brilliant and entertaining way. It's the first Canadian novel that I've read that has truly felt Canadian to me - how the winters are, how ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This book starts slowly, and you think it's going to be another yawn of a Canadian prairie tale. Although Laurence uses unconventional and not always wholly effective formal aspects (or are they typos from the publisher?), the book's content is imaginative and provocative. Her style shifts as the character ages, and she uses narrative voices that, although not always concise, are realistic and engaging.
Jan 05, 2010 Taylor rated it liked it
There is nothing wrong with Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners. But I can’t quite enjoy myself. While the story is interesting, and the characters sympathetic, I can never entirely embrace the novel. And around page five-hundred, when it has worn out its welcome, it comes to such a neat little closure, everything fitting together, that I can’t help but feel bored.
May 18, 2010 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-school
Another book that I had to read in high school. Another book that shouldn't be selected for teenagers to read. Maybe it spoke to my English teacher, but it certainly didn't reach out to me. I couldn't relate to Morag at all and the fact that I had to complete an intense study at the themes and character flaws, etc., I only ended up hating the book more.

Mar 19, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read.. I had never heard of Margaret Laurence but now realise she is highly respected in Canada. I was amazed that there were such rows about the book being on the school syllabus.
It is an interesting read, with terrific descriptions which really brought the prairies and small town Canada to life. The discrimination and general treatment of Native Canadians was heartbreaking. I felt that the writing in many cases was not as polished as it could have been, it just seemed rather naive..for
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Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss on July 18, 1926 in the prairie town of Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. Both of her parents passed away in her childhood, and Laurence was raised by her aunt and maternal grandfather.

Laurence decided in childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began writing stories in elementary school. Her professional writing career began in 1943 with a job at the
More about Margaret Laurence...

Other Books in the Series

Manawaka Sequence (5 books)
  • The Stone Angel
  • A Jest of God
  • The Fire-Dwellers
  • A Bird in the House

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“the infinite capacity of humans to wound one another without meaning or wanting to” 9 likes
“Why doesn't Prin go and get her own goddamn blistering bloody shitty jelly doughnuts?” 0 likes
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